Jul 30, 2007
Continuing my adventures in un-gate-kept media - or Web sites, which unlike The New York Times, TV news, and in fact all traditional news media and networks, publish what users and participants, not editors, decree as important or newsworthy.
Wikipedia and Digg, as I've been writing and talking about for almost a year, are both shining examples of these new, participatory approaches. But like all things human, neither operation is perfect. Both are beset by online vandals, who enter false or otherwise ridiculous information on Wikipedia, and similar kinds of stories on Digg.
The remedy for this comes from participants who call these stories out - making them candidates for removal on Wikipedia, or "burying" them on Digg. Wikipedia, in fact, has self-appointed groups of "exclusionists," who look to prune unnecessary information, and in effect keep an eye on the "inclusionists," whose philosophy is that more good is usually done by being open to unnecessary information (I'm an inclusionist). And Digg has unofficial "bury brigades".
But sometimes, as in the application of any medication, the cure or the antidote can be more damaging than the problem it seeks to redress.
Digg seems to have allergy to, among other things, articles about Ron Paul and articles about the iPhone. The stated reasons given by those members of Digg who bury such stories is that the system already has too many of them, and/or they are doing well on the system - making Digg's front page - not so much because of genuine interest of readers, but due to hyping of the diggs by Ron Paul supporters and iPhone fanatics.
Such charges are all but impossible to conclusively prove or refute. But let's assume, for a moment, that they are true. Does this mean that stories about Ron Paul, and iPhone, and anything else with devoted adherents ought not make the front page of Digg? Do devoted adherents negate the value of any story? If anything, I would say they are evidence of the story's value.
I am sure these battles - between exclusionists and inclusionists, between burial squads and diggers - will continue. It's all part of the opening of the gates. And whatever their inevitable flaws, Wikipedia and Digg both beat "all the news that's fit to print" at The New York Times (meaning all the news that the NY Times deems fit to print) or "we report, you decide" at Fox.
Self-reflexive irony department:
The Soft Edge gives more details on gate-kept media...